Advocacy, Humility & Gratitude

It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed. The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is raised, and animated by scenes that engage the heart, then those qualities which would otherwise lay dormant, wake into life… 
– Abigail Adams

I read this quote on a friend’s Facebook page recently, and it touched me deeply.  It made me think about how greatness does not come out of avoiding difficulty, even though it can be very tempting to do so.  

When I first realized that I wanted to be a teacher, I found myself inventing reasons not to follow my heart.  Mostly, I was afraid of failure.  I was afraid that it would be too hard and that I would not live up to my own expectations.  It was far more comfortable to avoid failure altogether than to face it head on.  Then, somehow, I found myself doing it anyway, and I was right– it was really hard and there were many days that I failed. But, in allowing myself to fail, I also gave myself space to grow.

In becoming a teacher, I have also become an advocate for children. Some of these children come to school hungry, cold, and in need of a lot of love.  Many of these children lack the life experiences that I treasured growing up.  Accordingly, in a strange way, they have become my children, who I love, guide, and struggle with everyday.  In taking on this role, I have accepted the humility that comes with asking others to help them, and this in turn has opened my eyes to the great generosity of people all around me, creating a humbling gratitude inside of me.

A few months ago, I shared how painful it was to watch students come to school without jackets.  It made me remember the times as a child when I forgot my jacket and felt cold.  The idea that these kids weren’t forgetting jackets, but instead did not have them, broke my heart.  Nonetheless, I was amazed by how many people reached out to me after I shared this experience.  My dad even marched into my classroom the very next morning with a jacket for a student that I told him about!

A dear old friend from college, who has always had an amazingly full heart, also reached out to me.  Without being asked, she organized a fundraiser among the employees in her office, and raised enough money to buy nearly two dozen jackets for the students that were still coming to school cold.  These jackets were delivered to my house this weekend and I could not believe how beautiful they were.  The fact that strangers in another city were willing to reach into their own pockets to help the students at my school was deeply humbling.  My gratitude is immense.

The willingness of people to help without even being asked has inspired me.  It has shown me that when presented with a need, many people want to help.  This is turn has inspired me to begin asking people for help, an act that does not come easily for me.  Recently, another teacher and I set up an online fundraising site to ask friends and family to help us take our students to the Exploratorium in San Francisco.  To our amazement, we have already raised more than $600!   

Between the jackets and the field trip money, this week has inspired me to keep moving forward, even when things feel difficult.  I am deeply touched by all of the people that care enough about our students to keep them warm and give them new life experiences.  Thank you to everyone that is teaching me humility, giving me reasons for great gratitude, and helping to change the lives of students at my school!

Gigantic bags of beautiful jackets for students at my school!

Thank you, thank you, thank you Old Navy donators!


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